The mystery of the salt

The river will provide you with trout and possibly the odd sought-after salmon (I've only ever caught one - that was before I even knew salmon came into the Wairau, and I ended up catching a salmon before I ever caught a trout); maybe a kokopu, which Jim mentioned a while ago he used to hook every now and then back in the day, but I've never even seen an adult kokopu, possibly due to the mass-slaughter of their young which make up most of the 'whitebait' numbers.

But the saltwater systems, they have many different kinds of fish as part of their ecosystems. A recent outing with my five year-old son made me appreciate something that I think I forgot - saltwater offers that variety and mystery that you don't have in the river.

We were out having a sail, planning on stopping for a fish. We ended up anchoring a stone's throw off Karaka Point. We both had kahawai on our hooks for bait.

I thought I heard my line peel off in a quick run, but there was nothing on there. I took the rod out of the rod holder, wound in a little line and held on to the rod. Then he was back! I set the hook and spent a few minutes trying to get whatever was on the end of my line to the surface, and that's the beauty of it - you don't know what's down there!

The rod and reel were part of a cheap setup that I leave on the boat, and I didn't know how strong the line was any more, so didn't bother tightening the tension up too much to force the fish to the surface.

After some good runs, a decent-sized barracouta appeared. I would've brought him aboard to take as crayfish bait, but was convinced to let him go, so managed to get my hook (a weighted softbait hook that I discovered a while ago gives that extra 'feel' when fishing with bait) dislodged with pliers while the fish was in the water. The other line had been severed, so must have had the same or another barracouta at the end of it. The longer shank on the softbait hook probably helped keep the line safe on my setup.

I won't be giving up on fishing the river, but think I'll start focusing on saltwater again for a while - seek out a bit more mystery.